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What customers really want? — brands that listen carefully and give great advice

Nobody likes to hear the words ‘told you so’ — so that’s why I had to choose my words very carefully indeed when our latest consumer research was published.

We polled a UK-representative sample of 2,000 shoppers, and they told us with amazing candour how little confidence they have in the support and information they receive during their online buying journeys.

Buckle-up, because the results make for sobering reading:

  • 60% of shoppers don’t trust online customer reviews
  • 47% don’t trust sales people because their advice may be influenced by commission
  • 48% don’t trust online advice
  • 42% are overwhelmed by the range of options available

These stats go a long way to explain the high basket-abandonment rates experienced within the sector — especially among high-intent, high-value customers. Inaction and a lack of support by brands and retailers means that these customers are literally slipping through their fingers, just at the point when they should be nurtured and converted to a profitable sale.

Conflicted customers

To say that online shoppers feel conflicted is an understatement. Our research shows they are confused by complex product specs, overwhelmed by multiple products on offer and crave human advice and support to get them over the line.

We’ve known this for some time at iAdvize, but to have it validated so clearly by our consumer research is compelling — notice I haven’t said ‘told you so’ yet!

Consumer confusion and pre-purchase anxiety has been made worse by recent reports that the majority of online user-generated reviews may be fake, especially in market places such as Amazon.

Consumer groups recently claimed that the online marketplace is ‘flooded by fake five-star reviews’, casting a shadow of doubt on the authenticity of shoppers’ online feedback. For example, Which? experts searched for headphone on the site and found 87% of 12,000 unknown brands were from unverified purchases.

Fake five-star reviews

In one example, a set of headphones sold by an unknown brand called Celebrat, had 439 reviews, all of which were five-star, were unverified and were posted on the same day, suggesting they had been automated.

When we asked UK consumers why they left a website empty handed, despite a clear intention to buy a product, they were clear in their response. 60% said they needed more advice when making a complex purchase, while 56% said they needed more support from a retailer. An increased level of confidence would also entice them to spend more and buy more often, greatly increasing lifetime value.

Our research also shows that just under two-thirds (66%) of consumers are more likely to buy when a retailer or brand gives them all the information they need. Just over half (56%) would be more loyal to brands and retailers if they’re given all the advice they need to make a purchasing decision.

A similar figure (52%) believe that better product advice/information would encourage them to spend more. Meanwhile, almost half (47%) would recommend a retailer/brand to friends and family if they offered more advice or information.

Shoppers clearly crave advice, support and reassurance, especially when considering high-value purchases. The answer is to provide not only the right information but also deliver it using the channels that best suit the consumer.

Holistic and integrated customer engagement

Just under half of consumers (46%) are happy to receive product advice and information via a mix of channels (chatbot, email, human sales assistant, SMS, independent product expert) as they progress seamlessly through the sales funnel. One important caveat to this, however, is that 53% of consumers stated that the channel must be appropriate to the message being relayed: for example, a chatbot for quick-fire questions versus a human customer service advisor for more complex queries.

The key to building customer trust and confidence is to develop conversations that deliver the high-quality information that shoppers need, when they need it most. To achieve this, brands/retailers need to adopt a unified and integrated approach to customer engagement, with responsive real-time, expert human interaction at its pinnacle for high-value, high-consideration purchases.

We’ve already seen that consumers want to use the best solution available to address their questions, switching between channels as their buying journey progresses. Retailers and brands who offer their customers a full suite of integrated engagement solutions, from SMS to human interaction, will not only be able to prevent high-intent customers slipping through their fingers at the last moment, they will also be able to collate and leverage customer data the full length of this process.

For more information about pre-purchase anxiety and using conversation to convert customers download the latest iAdvize report:

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